The Film (5/5)
Snaporaz (played by Marcello Mastroianni) wakes up suddenly on a bouncy train, to discover a beautiful stranger (Bernice Stegers) sitting across from him. Not being able to resist the opposite sex, he follows her to the restroom and tries to seduce her. But this mysterious stranger is smarter then she looks, and quickly makes a fool out of him. He jumps off the train to follow her, but soon discovers she is going to a feminist convention. But what starts out as juvenile fun soon leads Snaporaz to a sexual wonderland where he must face some insane women, his soon to be ex-wife (Anna Prucnal), a chaotic storm, his own self-worth as a man, and his own demons. All of this, in outrageous Fellini style of course!
After the huge international hit of La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini quickly became one of Italy’s most famous directors. Fellini’s next film was the playful and dream-like 8 ˝. 8 ˝ told the semi-autobiographical story of a director with writers block due to the pressure of a previous hit. So after that film, Fellini freely started making outlandish and daring movies about dreams that twist reality. Two things to take away from this is Fellini’s love of dreams and women. City of Women is a huge fever dream. From the first frame to the last you never know what’ll happen. The film isn’t concerned with plot as it’s with the outrageous journey Snaporaz must face while solving his piggish demons. The movie is also one of Fellini’s most visually impressive films.
On the surface, City of Women can be viewed as juvenile with its sense of humor. Almost every scene is childish with its views of sex and having to perform as a man. But this honestly just makes the movie even funnier as the sight gags never stop. From a woman who literally lives like Snow White and the seven dwarfs, to outlawing phallic symbols, and to a rollercoaster of awkward sexual memories. One hilarious scene has Snaporaz trapped in a roller rink and another involves a super dildo that would make the energizer bunny blush. For nearly two and a half hours the movie plays with logic and good taste, but it never feels over long or dull.
Cast wise the film is simply brilliant. Fellini regular and cinematic stand in, Marcello Mastroianni is spot on as Snaporaz. He goes from sexual pervert, to tragic figure, to sweet man, and finally to a respectful gentleman in the loosest degree. Mastroianni’s comic timing is spot on, and you can see the slow madness sinking in. Being a Fellini film the movie is of course filled with entertaining and beautiful women. British actress Bernice Stegers plays the film’s white rabbit and she is a presence you can’t look away from. She has a tragic and dark consuming face with deep dark eyes and a wicked smile. Her presence plays off because in the same year as this film, 1980, Stegers starred in Lamberto Bava’s debut feature, the offbeat horror film Macabre. My kind of actress. Anna Prucnal plays Snaporaz’s frustrated wife Elena, and she is easily one of the funniest women in the picture. Ettore Manni plays a unhinged friend of Snaporaz who brings an extra level of madness to the film, especially in his thousand conquest party.
City of Women is one of Fellini’s most enjoyable films. The visuals and the gliding camerawork give the movie a neat punch. The humor works and we get an excellent cast dealing with pure madness. Definitely a one of a kind experience from one of the masters.
Audio/ Video (5/5)
Cohen’s Blu-ray looks and sounds incredible. The Italian 2.0 Dolby digital audio track is crisp and well leveled. No loud jumps or hiss. The mix perfectly balances the sound effects with the soundtrack. The music by Luis Bacalov glides thru the movie and sounds of the highest quality. The track comes with easy to read subtitles with no grammar errors.
The 1080p HD transfer of a recent restored print is beyond gorgeous. The level of clear detail is astounding. You can clearly count waves of hair and see layers of grit on the stone roads. The color mix is full of vibrant blues, greens, reds, and yellows. Every detail is something wonderful for the eye to see from close-ups of lipstick, to the red velvet slide, to even the tan skin of the dream duo.
This Cohen Blu-ray is loaded to the gills with extras. First off we get the 30-minute mini documentary, Dreams of Women, about the making of the film. Next we get two interviews, one with filmmaker and Fellini’s friend Tinto Brass, and the second with production designer Dante Ferretti. We get three trailers which are the Italian, French, and 2016 re-release trailers. Lastly we get a liner booklet with film stills and cast list. The Tinto Brass interview is pretty hilarious, because half of it is him discussing how they met various women.
While not Fellini’s best film, City of Women is a visually stunning movie from one of world cinema’s masters. This Cohen Blu-ray is simply breathtaking. Hands down one of the best releases of 2016! Highly Recommended.